With the WWE Network hitting UK and Irish computers many wrestling fans have been eager to look back at their favourite moments – ECW’s Heat Wave 98, Wrestlemania 13 with Steve Austin vs Bret Hart, the Monday Nitro where Scott Hall jumped the barricade – the list of classic wrestling moments that viewers can watch with the Network is endless. I am, admittedly, not one of those people. I’m certainly not interested in paying to see a Roman Reigns Wrestlemania, but WWE hath decreed that February is free, so I’ll give the Network the benefit of the doubt before deciding whether or not it’s a worthwhile investment.
It seems myself and the Network have gotten off to a rocky start. Firstly, WWE have decided not to make the Network playable on ChromeOS. Whilst Chromebooks are quite rare outside of education, I use one as my main computer, and so have had to do some computer trickery to watch the Network at all. However, I can’t be considered innocent in all this because I’ve chosen as my first act as a Network viewer to watch WCW’s final pay per view. Why, you might ask? ‘The Monday Night Wars’ convinced me to do it. Having seen a few episodes of WWE’s ‘The Monday Night Wars’ series via other people’s Networks, WWE’s revisionist history, smug gloating and propensity for burying WCW really came to the fore. There is a great quote from The Death of WCW by RD Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez which states: “…the matches were awful and the angles were atrocious. The fans were so clearly sending a message, but nobody was listening.” This was written, not about WWE in 2015, but about a WCW show in 2000. With the current state of WWE’s product causing near-revolt amongst the fans, I thought I’d take a look at WCW in its dying days to really see whether WWE can have any real claim to superiority. Also, I just really want to laugh at some WCW, okay?
Aptly named for a WCW show, Greed aired March 18th 2001 and had a tiny live audience of just 5030 people. The show opens with a legitimately impressive video of DDP explaining how he’ll beat Scott Steiner and putting over his Diamond Cutter finisher, which was the RKO of its day. Randy Orton really should just study old DDP matches for new ways to hit the RKO. We don’t get any input from Scott Steiner, though considering how difficult he was to work with at this point, that isn’t surprising. Tony Schiovane welcomes us to ’the first’ (and last!) Greed, accompanied by Scott Hudson. They’re an underrated commentary duo. Schiovane is mostly remembered in WWE for saying that Mick Foley winning the WWF title would ‘put a lot of butts in seats’, a line fed to him by Eric Bischoff. It’s a bit unfair as he’s an underrated commentator, and could talk rings around most of the WWE team today. Point WCW.
Kwee-Wee vs Jason Jett
The first match is the bizarrely named Kwee Wee vs Jason Jett. This is my first time seeing either of these two guys. The commentators talk about how lucky Kwee Wee is to be on this show. I concur, but burying your talent is no way to get them over; though don’t tell WWE that. They do call him talented, but hysterically say WCW is about opportunity. Ask Chris Jericho if that’s true. The commentary team say Jason Jett has been in WCW for a week, which by my calculations means he was there about 3 weeks total, as WCW would close its doors just mere weeks after this show. The match starts outside and quickly becomes a series of spots. That said, the match resembles a showreel of moves you’d only see in one of the better WWE videogames. These two at least look somewhat unique. The match is a mess of bad pacing and fancy (read: indy) moves, but its far more entertaining than watching The Miz face one of the Usos for the 20th time. Schovane hypes that all 5 of the WCW titles will be on the line tonight. Considering WCW had a penchant of hot potatoing their titles, this is no surprise. He also notes that the brand new Cruiserweight tag team titles will be contested, which I’m sure will have a long and cherished lineage in the 8 days following this show before WCW closes for good. Kwee Wee, unlike most WWE heels, actually has some heat with the fans – so there’s another point to WCW.
Idiotic top rope spot where Kwee-Wee attempts a top rope Hurricanrana, Jett reverses it into a top rope powerbomb only for it to be revered again into an even more dangerous top rope hurricanrana. I wonder if these guys were aware that Eric Bischoff had no qualms about firing people with broken necks? Anyway, this is where the match should have ended – but it doesn’t. Jett throws Kwee-Wee out of the ring and lies on his back – for some reason Kwee-Wee thinks he’s winning the match. He heads to the top and misses possibly the worst elbow drop I’ve seen on a televised wrestling programme. Jett wins with a cool looking release vertical suplex in a match that wasn’t great, but beats most WWE openers nowadays. The commentators say Jett is on his way to the top – I can assure you, in the 8 days the company has left, Jett will not win any gold.
Winner: Jason Jett
Elix Skipper & Kid Romeo vs Filthy Animals (Billy Kidman and Rey Mysterio)
Next up is the Cruiserweight tag titles match. I’m frankly shocked WCW had enough tag teams to have two divisions considering how much of a joke tag wrestling is today and has been since the halcyon days on TNA’s Motor City Machine Guns/Beer Money matches. When watching this match, keep in mind one of these wrestlers will hold the WWE Championship some day. Mysterio comes out wearing half a mask before removing it. Eric Bischoff had Mysterio wrestle without a mask because he thought no one was interested in a masked Mysterio. WWE would later rectify this by earning a lot of money selling Mysterio masks. They still have a problem creating a new masked star to fill Mysterio’s boots, but they’ll get there. The heavyweight tag division at this time is dominated by big guys on steroids who can’t wrestle, so its a blessing that these four are facing each other.
Schiovane says that this match is indicative of what WCW is about – the youth. The main event is contested by Scott Steiner, who had been wrestling for WCW since 1988 and Diamond Dallas Page who literally didn’t start wrestling until he was 35. That said, I can imagine these four guys combined were cheaper than one 5 minute Kevin Nash match. Another thing I have to note is how comfortable Kidman and Rey’s gear looks. Kidman, like his future tag team partner John Cena (no seriously, look it up), is rocking jean shorts and Mysterio is wearing the baggiest trousers known to man. The match is driven by a lot of highflying moves and spots, but you can tell that these aren’t spots that get repeated every match. Still, its interesting to see in old WCW shows which wrestlers were nabbed up by WWE and which weren’t. Prime Time Elix Skipper gets into the face of a large, fat adult fan. If that happened these days, the fan would be invited backstage for free merch and photos with Triple H to apologise for his hurt feelings. Kidman hits a Shooting Star Press to the outside in a moment you certainly wouldn’t get these days. They’ve basically given up on having tags in this match at this point. Skipper tiger suplexes Mysterio and Romeo hits a leg drop but Kidman breaks up the pin. This could have been a finish, but they must really need to fill time on this card. Kidman does Bo Dallas’ running Bo-dogg which basically underlines that what’s a finisher in 2015 was just another move in 2001. Rey does a 619 without the ‘kicking the opponent in the face’ bit and gets caught in a scoop brainbuster for the win.
Winners: Skipper and Romeo
In part two we look at Shawn Stasiak vs Bam Bam Bigelow, Lance Storm and Mike Awesome vs Hugh Morris and Konnan, and Chavo Guerrero Jr vs Sugar Shane Helms